> Bless Their Hearts Mom: How to Combine History and Art: Sword Making Class from Greg Wenderski!
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How to Combine History and Art: Sword Making Class from Greg Wenderski!

One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is the ability to take field trips whenever we want, vacations when we want, and to be able to incorporate really neat classes into our curriculum!

Last week, before STREP hit our house (ugh and ugh), we were able to take a Sword Casting class with our fellow Northshore homeschoolers, from Greg Wenderski, aka the Sword Casting Guy, from Austin, TX!

Greg Wenderski

Greg's story of how he came to do these sword classes around the country is a perfect example of 'I'm Possible' that I talked about earlier today! He was teaching Science in Austin and decided to help out the history class with hands on activity, and a new hobby was started. He started advertising his classes on Facebook, but when they decided 
'no weapon posting', he couldn't advertise his business there. So he thought about the homeschoolers who had enjoyed his classes, and sent them a query. next thing he knew, he was teaching classes ALL over the South, both to homeschoolers and private groups! That's a success story!

You MIGHT be familiar with Greg from a 2018 Youtube video, from Mel Chemistry on the How to Make Everything Youtube Channel, that showed Greg helping to answer the question, "How many pennies do you need to melt down to make a sword?". It was one of Miss Grace's favorite Mel Science videos, so I knew she would adore taking the class from Greg, and surprised her with it for her birthday! She had no idea what the class was when we got there, until just about before Greg showed up!

swords n class collage

Because Greg was a teacher, he spends a good amount of time talking to the kids about the different swords available in the Bronze Age, how they were used and talking about the different metals, and even how physics determined their shapes. He really gave the kids an in depth history lesson! As Miss Grace did Ancient Civ last year, and recently saw the Genghis Khan exhibit in Mobile, she was thrilled to be able to be hands on with examples!

discussion and wood prep collage

Can you tell how happy she was? LOL. Course she picked a Katana over a Roman sword- "it's more cool"- LOL. Only she and one other older teen girl picked them, the boys all went for the thicker Roman style Xiphos swords, or the curvy 'evil bad guy' Kris sword. The kids all got to pick one wooden sword, and that would be their model for sand casting. Plus they got to keep their wooden swords. Some kids picked his bronze casted Khopesh swords, so they would have 2 different types, but most just wanted the wood one to play with and the cast one to keep nice! The kids got to use his electric sanders to make their sword ridges and points, and I was really surprised at how well Miss grace took to using power tools. Hmmm, maybe carpentry is in her future!

working on casting collage

Greg brings all his own molds, smelter, aluminum, electric tools to the site, so the kids have an all day class, with new aspects at every step of the process. And the kids do DO most of the work! I was actually surprised at how well even the 8 yr olds did with being careful with the mold boxes, and taking them apart/back together again! For the sand cast, Greg has a premixed sand/bentonite clay that the kids put in the base, then put their wooden sword in, then, add more sand, to make their form, for the melt. Mom was so impressed, that I forgot to take a picture- it was VERY cool when the box is opened, and you see how the form was made out of just sand, and it STAYS put, even after the wooden form is removed and the box is reassembled and placed upright!

We found it really cool that Greg uses re-cycled aluminum to make the swords. He buys it in melted down form, so it's easier to use, but he does walk the kids through what types they can use, if they want to start making their own! Another lesson in chemistry! And patience! It takes a while for the metal to melt enough to be pored. Greg does handle all the heating and pouring, for obvious danger reasons. We were actually surprised at how quickly the metal sets up and forms in the mold!

And now for the big reveal:

Yup- that's her katana in it's raw form!

final result collage

You can see how the swords come out- some of the 'knobs' at the top of the mold break off when taken out of the molds, others need to be ground off. The swords do have to go through a grinding process, and this is where it is good to have adults and older teens around, who want to volunteer and be Greg's helpers, as the grinders are a bit hard for younger kids to use. This period does give the kids some downtime, which was good for bonding and exploring the host's yard for crawfish! The swords go from raw and honestly, somewhat ugly, to finished and ready to go! Due to us having a larger class, there wasn't time for extra polishing, so her grandfather is going to help her with that a bit later, to get an extra polish on it. Greg also brings strips of colored leather with him, so that the kids can make a covered hilt. Another recycling moment, he gets his leather off worn sofas that area college kids get rid of! 

All in all, Miss Grace had a super super day, and she treasures her katana that SHE made! It was a great educational experience, but also a great chance to experience history in a way that you normally can't! 

If this class sounds great, check out Greg's website- he has a calendar set up so you can see when he might be in your area already, or if you have enough students for a class, you can request to set one up with him! The 2 classes our group had literally sold out in less than 24 hours! it's a fun class for kids AND adults to take, and we can't recommend it enough!

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